Monday, February 11, 2013

Planet Southie Bikes goes to City Hall

Exciting update from the Planet Southie Bike Action Team!

It's been a just over two weeks since we listened to the extraordinary presentation that transportation engineer Mike Tremblay delivered to Planet Southie.  Mike's proposal for major improvements to our urban landscape along East & West Broadway, immediately caught the attention of Mayor Menino's Boston Bikes director Nicole Freedman who requested a face to face meeting with us to review his key concepts, and to hear about Planet Southie Bikes' overall goals.  

Mike's plan goes well beyond the inclusion of bicycle infrastructure, its a much broader improvement to Broadway for pedestrians, motorists, trees and more; however, since Nicole represents Boston Bikes the topic she is most interested in hearing about is of course bikes.

The informal meeting took place earlier tonight on the 9th floor of City Hall.  After brief introductions and apologies for dripping wet messenger bags, shoes, and awkward post-blizzard survival attire, we got down to business.  Nicole was eager to hear what we had to say, and I got the sense that South Boston is blinking brightly on her radar of neighborhoods slated for bicycle improvement in 2013.  Our first order of business was to share with Nicole the map that we created as a group at one of our past meetings.  Our map indicated the major routes where we feel bicycle infrastructure would have the most impact.  These areas include: A Street, D Street, the Broadway & West 4th Street Bridges, Summer Street, West 1st Street and a few more.  We focused a bit of extra attention on the two bridges since they seem particularly dangerous for cyclists and serve as major connectors to nearby neighborhoods.  I am happy to report that generally speaking our map matches up pretty closely with the City's plans.  This was particularly satisfying for me as well as Nicole in confirming that we are all pretty much on the same page.  Nicole shared with me some of the plans for D-Street, and we discussed some of the other ideas that Boston Bikes was working out (Including bike facilities on I-Street, which we were did not have on our map, but could serve as an alternate route to bypass the congestion found on L-Street).  Much of the City's plan is considered "longer term" plans but there are a number of items that are getting ready to go much sooner.

From there Mike Tremblay went page by page through his design ideas for each intersection along Broadway.  Every time I open his set of drawings I am amazed at the level of thinking that has gone into his work.  He presented his ideas to Nicole who carefully listened, enthusiastically asked questions, and made insightful comments all along the way.  At this point I was mostly a spectator watching two city planning experts hum through the details at an extraordinary pace.  Some of these ideas would certainly need more even more careful attention, and the cost of this project would likely be in the millions... however Nicole seemed optimistic that we could aim to get temporary measures done while we wait for bigger urban renewal funding to help with the large expense that this design  proposes.

We concluded by leaving behind a set of Mike's drawings and Nicole stating her intentions to shop these design ideas for Broadway around.  Nicole also suggested a Planet Southie group ride and guided tour of our neighborhood to help her become even more familiar with our streets.  She said she could probably ride most of our streets in about an hour.... I told her that it won't be much of a tour because I'd be left behind in the dust.  I'll try to set something up with her in the spring.

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